openSUSE Considering Changing Its Distribution Naming Scheme

It looks like openSUSE is looking to drop its current naming scheme in favor of a new one which is easier to follow. Traditionally openSUSE has a naming scheme which is confusing at best. The last few releases of openSUSE were 10.3, 11.0, 11.1, 11.2, 11.3 and 11.4. Although this looks like a major and minor numbering system, it is not. For example, openSUSE 11.4 is not a minor update from openSUSE 11.3. There is no specific reason why openSUSE 11.4 was given the number 11.4 and not, say, 12.

In short, openSUSE has no fixed plan on how to name the next release. They generally count the minor number to 3 and then increase the major number – but that is not always the case as openSUSE 11.4 shows.

To replace the old naming scheme, Novell is looking at a new naming scheme which should makes it clear which release is the newer one and which has no ambiguity on what the next release will be called. On the suggestions of openSUSE developers and users, they are currently looking at several options.

One of the naming schemes that they are looking at is the one which Ubuntu uses. It is a simple method where each release is given the name YY.MM, where YY is the year and MM is the month of the release. Another scheme that they are looking at is the one Fedora uses. This is probably the simplest naming scheme. In this scheme, each stable release is given an integer – for example 12, followed by 13, 14 etc. Yet another is the one Mandriva uses. In the Mandriva naming scheme, releases are named as YYYY.N, where YYYY is the year of the release and N is the number of release in that year.

An interesting naming scheme being discussed is the octal system. In the proposed system, releases are named according to the octal number system. In this system the next release will be 012, followed by 013, 014, 015, 016, 017, 020 etc. A naming system based on seasons is also proposed. According to this, releases are named as Autumn 2011, Summer 2012,  Spring 2013 etc. This naming scheme is however likely to run into problems as not everyplace has the same seasons.

Novell is still accepting suggestions for more naming schemes until 14th of March. So, if you have something in mind, do send them a suggestion. Novell is planning to have two rounds of voting to pick the final naming scheme they will go with.

Personally, I think the Ubuntu naming scheme is the easiest and best option – maybe because I am an Ubuntu user. Which naming scheme do you prefer?


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